Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yeah, it's kinda' like that...

I friend of mine sent this to me. Thought you'd get a kick out of it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Have you ever been so proud that you felt as if you could burst into a song about peace, joy and love? OK, maybe that's a stretch... But this whole last month I have seen things that have truly warmed my heart and deeply encouraged and satisfied my soul.

Some of you might know that Willow Community Church nearly closed its doors just over two years ago. There were very good people working very hard to keep that from happening but things had to change. Apparently, Willow had three pastors in about four years. They had seen the congregation dwindle to around 30 people on any given Sunday and they were being buried under a mountain of debt. Kimy, my wife, started working for Willow's daycare program a few years ago, so we were able to meet some of the people and learn about some of the struggles they were encountering. As we learned more, we began to pray that God would change the situation and allow His people to see victory in Spiritual and financial health. Eventually, I caved in to the pressure I was feeling from God to inquire about the problems at Willow from the West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church. It was during that time, the decision was made bring me to Willow as the Senior pastor.

Willow has since seen the number of people triple to around 90 on most Sundays and even 100 on occasion! We have also seen people's lives transform right before our very eyes. Younger and older alike, have asked Jesus into their hearts and have grown from seekers to fully devoted followers of the Messiah.

Because the work of the church is multifaceted, God has placed His people in key positions to get that work done. Pastor Dave Kallenbach is not only one of my very best friends, but he is also a wonderful leader and man of God. He does just about anything I ask him to do and he sees what needs to be done. I have seen him grow into an awesome Christian man and I know that God has major plans for him and Annie, his wife. They have both have been very instrumental in the inner-workings and structure of Willow. They both have made big sacrifices in order to see God's work fulfilled in North West Lansing. I could never thank them enough for all they have done.

Willow also needs solid lay leadership and God has provided for that as well. Each Wesleyan Church needs a Local Board of Administration (LBA). This board is responsible for, yeah, you guessed it, the administration of the church. Recently, the six people on the LBA have had to deal with the financial struggle that Willow has been dealing with for several years. We have worked and reworked the budget to get it inline with current giving and income trends. We have had to make deep cuts and limit all spending to just the necessities of keeping the doors open. All through this process, these leaders have stayed positive and encouraged. They have lifted my mood to the heights of joy by staying the course and working very hard to make things balance. Sue VanderJagt is the treasurer and has done an amazing job putting all the numbers together. She is very gifted at using QuickBooks and explaining things in terms that anyone could understand. Annie Kallenbach has also been involved with all the spreadsheet stuff and has exercised extreme faith when paying the bills with our last few dollars. The other members of the LBA have been key in helping to allocate the funds we do have and then praying, in faith, that God has already provided for the needs that we have. My heart is totally overwhelmed at the work, faith and example of Troy Pence, Sheree Ritchie, Bob Hodges, Paul Brehob and Kyle Glashower. These are true men and women of renown! we still have significant financial needs, but because of the prayer of these people, I have every confidence that God will provide!!

Then there is Kimy. She is the best thing God has given Willow Community Church!! She does nearly everything that no one else wants to do. Not only is the church's chief administrator, she is also the book keeper for the daycare and the women's ministry leader. The thing is... she is also my best friend, confidant and wife. I can not imagine being in the role that I have without her by my side. She has a heart that is just huge for God's work at Willow, but her true ministry is to me and her family. I'm not sure I can put this into words that will capture my thoughts, but I don't think Willow would be as strong as it is becoming if it were not for the work Kimy has done for me and my family. Again, my heart just swells as I think of her and the things she has done for me, which in turn impacts nearly everything at Willow

Wow, I've blubbered way too long! I know I haven't mentioned everyone that has helped Willow become successful, but I hope they all know how much I love them and how much they are prayed for.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Come, they told me....

I have been playing the drums for Willow Community Church for just about a year. I never really played before. I did play the conga's, tambourine, rain stick and various other percussion instruments at Faith Church for a few years, but I never sat behind the floor kit. I gotta' tell ya', I LOVE IT!! I never thought someone could love something so much. I have the very fortunate opportunity to practice just about any time I want because the drum set it set up on the platform in the Sanctuary adjacent to my office. I have actually found that I receive thoughts about my sermons and wisdom about situations in life while I sit and bang the skins. I can't really explain it, but I actually worship while I'm playing. On Sunday mornings for instance, I try not to get too carried-a-way while playing with the worship band, but sometimes, the words and message coupled with the emotion of the music flat out overwhelms me. I try not to be showy, and I hope that isn't what people see, but sometime I just gotta Praise!!

I wonder if that's how God feels about His favorite instruments? Think about it... If God's children can find so much joy in playing an instrument for the intended purpose of worship, how much more joy must the Creator feel when His created instruments fulfill their intended purpose?

Check out this little bit of scripture. It's the drummer's permission slip!!!

Psa 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Psa 98:5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
Psa 98:6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007